DAGUPAN CITY – Students of the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) taking up Master of Arts in Public Administration visited the city on February 28 to learn its best practices on financial and disaster risk reduction management.
Dr. Noel Lansang, a professional lecturer in Public Administration and Political Science at UST said they came to Dagupan upon the invitation of Public Employment and Services Officer Jocelyn Siapno, who is currently taking-up Master of Arts in Public Administration in the same university, to showcase the city’s best practices.
It can be recalled that the city was recently awarded the Seal of Good Local Governance, Seal of Good Local Financial Housekeeping for its good financial management and the Gawad Kalasag Exceptional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Service Award for the city’s exemplary actions and unprecedented support in Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery promoting DRRM (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management).
Mayor Belen T. Fernandez, along with City Administrator Farah Marie G. Decano, welcomed the delegates and made a presentation on the city’s best practices on financial management and business continuity plan, respectively, while City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Ronald De Guzman presented the city’s best practices in disaster risk reduction management.
Fernandez narrated how she was able to make a turnaround of the city's finances in 2013 when she took over the reins of the city as Dagupan that time had no more budget left to pay for the city’s obligations after registering a P30 million deficit.
But after only six months of adopting moderation of expenses, belt-tightening and rigorous tax collection, finances bounced back to a positive P3 million surplus at the end of 2013.
Because of the city’s sound financial status for the last three years, the city was able to construct three school buildings, five covered courts, a library hub and a women center, elevated city roads and upgraded the city’s drainage system.
“We are also financing the scholarship of 500 students enrolled in the different universities in the city and we were able to purchase vehicles and equipment for the CDRRMO and soon we will be constructing a Bahay Pag-asa for children in conflict with the law,” said Fernandez.
Lansang was thankful that they came to the right place.
“It’s very fortunate for us that this is the place we chose to visit. I am fascinated how Mayor Belen works even on Sundays. She is energetic and hands-on, head-on. She knows how to delegate. That’s good management. She knows what she is talking especially about figures,” said Lansang.
He described Fernandez as one who doesn’t sound like a politician, an ordinary person talking to people who is investing on services without expecting anything in return.
Lansang further described the city as a good laboratory for their students for them to know the facts of what they are learning inside the classroom.
UST’s Public Administration and Political Science Program led by Dr. Edwin Martin revealed that this was their first time to bring their students to a particular subject in Public Administration outside of their campus.
“We’ve heard about the efforts and the achievements of Mayor Belen and that we became very interested how she was able to make a turnaround on the city’s budget deficit. Today I was able to confirm that it is true. Indeed, she is an indefatigable mayor,” said Martin. (Joseph C. Bacani/CIO)